Plug and play

Enabling the smart home and office

By Gabriela Ehrlich

Seamlessly switching off lights, turning on heating or cooling remotely, communicate or listen to music that follows you as you move from room to room, this not only requires smart devices but communication protocols that can cross different makes and technologies.

electricity pannel
Communication protocols are essential for home network systems to work

Smarter devices everywhere

At CES 2012 the connected home was featured both as a communication hub that allows consumers to stay in touch when they’re on the road as well as allowing them to reach out to the world, when they’re at home. Smart devices in the home will also enable increased energy efficiency by remotely turning off lights, closing shutters or controlling smart applications and appliances via the Internet.

The ability to communicate with each other

Visiting the connected home on display in South Hall 2 at CES, visitors discovered a multitude of devices, including smart TVs and household appliances, interactive energy control panels, low energy lighting solutions and more. None of them would be effective without the ability to communicate with each other. UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) technology allows devices to seamlessly cross multivendor and multi-technology networks. UPnP together with enabling home automation technologies such as KNX (ISO/IEC 14543-3) or Echonet (ISO/IEC 14543-4) allows devices to connect and work together, facilitating multiple applications like entertainment, energy efficiency, security and building control, through data and resource sharing, communications, the Internet and simplified network establishment.

Vendor and technology independent

The new International Standard ISO/IEC 29341Information technology – UPnP Device Architecture describes the architecture for home connectivity of intelligent appliances, audio and video equipment, wireless devices and PCs. The multi-part standard allows a user interface for, and a bridge to, intelligent appliances and Home Electronic Systems. It enables the seamless connection and handles the interworking of AV and sensors for lighting, heating, cooling, shading, security and multiple applications no matter which manufacturer, as long as products comply with the standard. Device control protocols are built upon established, open, internet-based communication standards such as TCP/IP, UDP, HTTP, XML, etc.

“The UPnP Device Architecture is designed to support zero-configuration, 'invisible' networking and automatic discovery for a breadth of device categories in the area of audio, video and data from a wide range of vendors,” explains Dr Walter von Pattay, Secretary of the committee that developed the standard. “The real plus is that it’s network independent, does not require device drivers, can be implemented using any programming language or operating system and supports a wide range of applications from AV to Home Electronic Systems that operate lights, shutters, control climate and many other things.”

Von Pattay adds, “ISO/IEC 29341 will help manufacturers from around the world to comply with the specifications required to make this technology work, so that any compatible device from any vendor can dynamically join/leave a network and interoperate seamlessly.”

The standard is composed of several parts. The first part, ISO/IEC 29341-1Information technology – UPnP device architecture – Part 1: UPnP Device Architecture Version 1.0establishes the fundamental principles and base architecture.

Additional parts define specific applications and devices. The latest include:

  • ISO/IEC 29341-4-10Information technology – UPnP Device Architecture – Part 4-10: Audio Video Device Control Protocol – Level 2 – Audio Video Transport Service
  • ISO/IEC 29341-4-11Information technology – UPnP Device Architecture – Part 4-11: Audio Video Device Control Protocol – Level 2 – Connection Manager Service
  • ISO/IEC 29341-4-13Information technology – UPnP Device Architecture – Part 4-13: Audio Video Device Control Protocol – Level 2 – Rendering Control Service
  • ISO/IEC 29341-4-14Information technology – UPnP Device Architecture – Part 4-14: Audio Video Device Control Protocol – Level 2 – Scheduled Recording Service

ISO/IEC 29341 was developed by the IEC and ISO within joint technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC (Subcommittee) 25: Information technology – Interconnection of information technology equipment.

UPnP is a big step forward bringing flexible standards-based connectivity to ad-hoc or unmanaged networks in the home, office or public spaces.

electricity pannel Communication protocols are essential for home network systems to work
Smart_Oven_LG UPnP allows smart appliances to communicate with each other (Photo: LG)
SnapLinkMobileAndroid The connected home enables consumers to control home functions even when on the road (Photo: HAI)